Interest in Caramoan, Camarines Sur has surged ever since it was featured in the hit reality show Survivor. International franchises of the show that have been filmed here include Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, France and most recently the 25th season of the US version, which started airing last week.
By the time we reached the island, the taste of brine was thick on my lips, my eyes felt like they were on fire, and my clothes clung to my skin like wet rags. The two-hour trip aboard a fishing vessel from the port of Paracale in Camarines Norte to Mahabang Buhangin Beach in the Calaguas group of islands was a reminder that the sea demands respect.
Our boat was tossed along the lurching swells of unseasonably rough seas. Since I sat at the boat’s bow, I faced the full impact of the ocean’s wrath in the form of frothy cold saltwater sprays. I thanked the travel gods for the fair weather and imagined how fishermen braved the seas during inclement climate. “Wala ito,” said tourism officer Angel who was seated next to me. “May isang beses, 3 oras kami sa dagat kasi ang lakas talaga ng alon. Halos mangiyak-ngiyak na yung mga tao sa banka,” she said before she dozed off.
Once the island was in sight, I understood why people would brave hell or high water to get here. The island’s raw beauty is the stuff of dreams. It makes you wonder if you’ve drowned during the trip and are setting foot on paradise itself. Continue reading
Four days ago, I was sitting alone on a tiny stretch of beach in Guimaras as the waters receded, leaving starfish beached on the shore. Darkness seeped into the sky, shifting from cheerful blue to rusty orange to deep purple, as I reflected on solo travel and life in general.
Even if there were other people around, I felt isolated. Earlier that afternoon, a group of day trippers where singing along to the strumming of a guitar. They posed happily for jump shots at the pier and exchanged stories while I watched from afar. Several workers were busy hammering something in a room two doors down from my beachside fan-room and attending to various renovations at the resort. But still, I felt alone. Continue reading
Day 2: Island-hopping in Palaui and Cape Engano Lighthouse
On the second day of the Lakbay Norte tour, we headed off to the port of San Vicente in Cagayan where boats were waiting to take us on our island-hopping trip to Palaui.
After a 40- minute boat ride through relatively mild waves, we made it to our first stop at Siwangag Cove, a marine sanctuary in the northwestern part of Palaui island. The rough sandy beach was covered with tiny white corals and hermit crabs.
Then, we boarded the boats again towards another island where Cape Engano, a Spanish lighthouse completed in 1892 stood majestically on top of a hill. This time, the waves were much stronger and the swells made our boats drift almost like a roller-coaster. At times, we lost sight of the boats in front of us. Continue reading